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All through the month of July, Massey’s Canyon was red hot for bluefin tuna. Roughly 43 miles southeast out of Cape May Inlet and 32 miles from Ocean City, MD, Massey’s is easily accessible for mid-range boaters and sportfishers alike to get into big gamefish (hence the often crowded conditions).

By Nick Honachefsky

The “canyon” is not a canyon in the true sense of the word, but a major drop from 95 to 125 feet does exists as it sits between the 20 and 30 fathom lines. Massey’s sits midway between the Hot Dog to the south and the 19 Fathom Lump to its north, so you can hopscotch between spots if you need to find the fish. No doubt, through the summer months and into the fall Massey’s is all about tuna, mainly bluefin, but with shots of yellowfin tuna also an option during warmer water years. In the 2000s, Massey’s was a primo red hot bluefin spot, but seemed to dry up in recent years; as of 2016, it looks like we are back in action as bluefin in the 80- to 150-pound range were ambushing anglers throughout the month of July.

Most tuna hunters working this area troll during the predawn and early morning hours, setting out a spread of cedar plugs, green machines, squid spreader bars, chuggers and feathers; but once the sun comes up strong, anglers often opt to go deep and drop down with either jigs or chunk baits. Employ the use of 8- to 16-ounce slender Butterfly type jigs that mimic sand eels, which are usually the predominant baits around the area, or set up and chunk butterfish or sardines, dishing out chum and sending baits down into the water column. If you still want to troll, work blue and white Ilanders rigged with ballyhoo down on planers to get into the deeper strike zone of the mid day hours.

Bluefin range from football sizes of 10 to 20 pounds pegging up to 300 pounds, but generally average in the 50- to 100-pound class, as the larger bluefin seem to follow this 20-fathom curve on their migratory path. The smaller bluefin hang in late June and July then get pushed out by their bigger brothers come August. Many years, if the fleet continues to dish out slicks and baits day after day, the bluefin stick around Massey’s like Pavlov’s dogs. Should that be the case this summer, it could spark the bite to last well into the late fall months.

Yellowfin tuna run from 30 to 60 pounds and seem to move into the area when the waters reach the mid to high 70s and even into the 80s on some years and are quite the treat when they do add to the mix. Oh, there’s also the option to battle with sharks, namely threshers, makos, blues and browns that inhabit the area throughout the summer and into the fall months. And don’t overlook the option to scale down your trolling feathers to work around any flotsam and jetsam or lobster pots to target mahi that can reach the 30-pound mark.

For anglers heading out of port from Ocean City, NJ down to Ocean City, MD, Massey’s Canyon is what you might call the everyman’s pelagic paradise.

You’ll find Massey’s (38° 19.750’/74° 26.500') and other nearby hot spots like the Chickenbone, Hambone and Driftwood Wreck on Captain Segull’s Sportfishing Chart #CMCH20, Cape May to Cape Hatteras.

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